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Petal High’s special education students brewing up workforce skills

Published: Sep. 25, 2021 at 3:24 AM CDT
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PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - At Petal High School, many teachers and students are starting their day with a fresh cup of coffee, and it’s all thanks to students in special education.

Four days out of the week, you can expect to see a line by a mini coffee bar known as Panther Brew. Located inside The Den, Panther Brew is mainly run by students with special needs.

“It gives these students the opportunity to not only socialize with their general education peers, but it gives them the opportunity to build skills outside of a classroom setting,” Ms. Jaci Anderson, a community-based special education teacher, said.

She says the program helps students develop skills needed in the workforce.

“It’s a way for them to practice the skills we work on in the classroom in the setting where they might be employed later on in life,” Anderson said. “That’s our focus, is trying to get them these job skills that they need later on after high school.”

Anderson says donations from their iced and hot coffees help the high school’s community-based class, multi-disability group and alternate diploma class.

“The money we make from the donations we get with Panther Brew we use for field trips, so the students won’t have to pay for that and for supplies we need in the classroom for the career readiness and daily living courses that we teach,” Anderson said.

Overall, she says the students really enjoy brewing up their life and work skills one coffee at a time.

“I love it,” Anderson said. “They are very special to me; this is what I love to do. The biggest thing for me is not just the work skills, but it’s the opportunity to socialize with everyone. We have staff come in, we have students, and they know everyone just from Panther Brew.”

Anderson says their coffee sells out quickly. She says they just can’t seem to make enough of it.

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